7 Habits of Highly Effective Marketing Leaders

Start with one key habit to grow your personal effectiveness and deliver better business results.

William James, the 19th-century psychologist and philosopher who studied habit formation, famously noted that “All our life, so far as it has a definite form, is but a mass of habits.” Good habits, bad habits and everything in between govern the day-to-day life of people, marketing leaders included.

Marketing is a fast-paced discipline in which even the most experienced leaders often operate without a playbook. With demand for results at an all-time high, marketing leaders need to ensure they have the agility, interpersonal skills, and strategic and operational leadership habits to deliver business-impacting growth.

Start with the habit that is easiest to achieve or, for a challenge, the most important habit

“You can deliver better results for your organization if you take the time to develop the right habits and improve your personal effectiveness as a marketing leader,” says Jennifer Polk, research VP, Gartner for Marketers.

Effective marketing leaders understand the strategy and economics of the business. They source talent, structure teams and work across functions to deliver results. They see data as an asset and manage martech for efficiency and innovation. Below are the seven habits of highly effective marketing leaders.

  1. Use marketing to extend and execute business strategy.
  2. Run marketing like a profit center, not a cost center.
  3. Know how to use data and technology to achieve results.
  4. Combine a data-driven approach with human brand elements.
  5. Accomplish more with the help of others.
  6. Consistently connect spend to business outcomes.
  7. Make a continuous commitment to innovation.

To begin the journey of developing these habits, choose one to focus on first. Start with the habit that is easiest to achieve or, for a challenge, the most important habit. Immediately write down and begin a plan of action. Be patient. Give yourself time to adopt the new habit. Once you’ve mastered that habit, move on to another.

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Set expectations and list the changes you expect as a result of mastering each new habit. Track results to measure your progress. Practice for improvement and avoid the temptation of falling back on old behaviors. Create opportunities to practice your new habits.

Although his language portrays an era gone by, James’s guidance adds urgency to the importance of taking the next step in personal and professional development.

“Accumulate all the possible circumstances which shall reinforce the right motives; Put yourself assiduously in conditions that encourage the new way; Make engagements incompatible with the old; Take a public pledge, if the case allows; in short, Envelop your resolution with every aid you know,” says Polk. 

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